France seeks 1.6 billion euros in back taxes from Google: source

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 24, 2016 10:36 AM

PARIS (Reuters) - France is seeking 1.6 billion euros ($1.76 billion) in back taxes from U.S. Internet giant Google <GOOGL.O>, criticized for its use of aggressive tax optimization techniques, a source at the finance ministry said on Wednesday.

"As far as our country is concerned, back taxes concerning this company amount to 1.6 billion euros," the official, who declined to be named, said.

A spokeswoman for Google France declined to comment. An unsourced 2012 media report mentioned a claim for 1 billion euros by French authorities, which Google denied at the time.

The tax authority usually issues at least one preliminary assessment before its final assessment, which can be challenged in court if not accepted, tax advisers say.

Earlier this month, Finance Minister Michel Sapin ruled out striking a deal with the U.S. search engine company as the British government recently did, saying the sums at stake in France were "far greater" than those in Britain.

Google reached a 130 million pound ($181.18 million)settlement with British tax authorities for the period since 2005, which British lawmakers criticized on Tuesday as "disproportionately small".

($1 = 0.9108 euros)

($1 = 0.7175 pounds)

(Reporting by Michel Rose; Gwenaelle Barzic and Yann Le Guernigou; Editing by Paul Taylor)